Coco Gauff, who shot to fame by reaching the Wimbledon last 16 as a 15-year-old in 2019, is the latest leading WTA Tour player to write a BBC Sport column.
In her second piece at the Australian Open, the American seventh seed discusses facing Britain’s Emma Raducanu in a blockbuster second-round match on Wednesday.
Facing a Grand Slam champion like Emma Raducanu so early in a major is not ideal, but like my dad always says: ‘To be the best you have to beat the best’.
To help me follow in Emma’s footsteps and win a Slam, I added a new activity into my pre-season training – boxing.
My fitness trainer wanted me to box to help improve balance and so I went down to a gym near where I live in Florida.
I’m not a fighter – even though I have trained in the past with Mike Tyson. If someone came up and punched me I would be out first punch!
The pre-season training was in a proper gym where there were professional fighters training and whenever they would come to watch I was talking really loud – like, ‘yeah my tennis tournament’ – so they knew I wasn’t a fighter.
I didn’t want them to think this girl is trash and is going to get whooped! I wanted them to know this is not what I do.
Some of them knew who I was – and I was wearing my tennis gear to make the point – but I definitely wanted to make sure they knew I wasn’t cut out for this.
They were all very nice people but they were slightly intimidating at first and were watching me. I was like ‘guys, I don’t do this, I play tennis’, I’m the furthest away from this sport that I could be.
The boxing instructor is a fighter and he said I improved in the three weeks I did with him.
When he told me I improved I was like ‘yes finally’ because I looked so bad at the start. So that made me really happy.
I also got to do it with my brother Codey so it was nice bonding with him. He thinks he’s a fighter so I enjoyed trying to beat him up!
Adding in other sports makes the pre-season more enjoyable. I grew up playing multiple sports – basketball, gymnastics, track – so I wanted to go back to my roots and try different things.
As well as boxing, I did some swimming. For me, swimming is one of those things which gets me the most tired.
I can run forever and do a lot of things forever, but swimming I feel like I’m done after two laps.
So my fitness coach Stephane is trying to find extra ways to get me tired and do extra cardio because my heart rate doesn’t stay high for long.
Hopefully I will be in the game for another 20 years and so…